Hellooo everybody! I’m finally getting around to making a Bookstagram 101 post after receiving so many DMs regarding building a better Instagram page. I want to start by saying that these tips and tricks are pretty general but I wanted to add in my own input just to make it more realistic and honest.
Alright. So I want to share with you guys my Bookstagram story.
I joined Bookstagram 2 years ago with the intention of keeping up with bookish updates and recommendations. I started taking pictures because I was inspired; I followed a bunch of crazy talented Bookstagrammers back then (still am now) and I wanted to try and do what they could do.
Guess what? I was horrible at it. I was scared to seek for help and interact with other people so I just kept experimenting on my own. One thing that baffled me though was that I never looked at my followers/likes. Not once. Honestly (and realistically), they’re what keeps us going, right? They’re what motivate us to grow and improve our work. All along I just stuck with messy captions; gushing about a book I devoured that night and posting pictures about it. I mean, who would want to see that?
And that’s when I woke up to 100 followers one day.
100 followers, you guys. I mean, that’s a huge accomplishment.
I didn’t even notice it until then (could’ve possible taken me a whole month, I can’t remember). I never kept up with my stats until that bomb hit. I was ecstatic! Bookstagram to me, in a way, is kind of like my personal journal. A place where I can post pictures and talk about books all I want without having anyone read or judge them. We have Goodreads, sure, but that’s different. Bookstagram just seems more… exciting, you know? So only when I reached 100 followers did I start being more conscious of the things I say and post, because, holy cow, 100 people actually read and like what I post. How was I to let them down? I knew my work was crappy (low self-esteem here but that’s not the point), so I brainstormed all these different ideas and thought, what would my followers like? I went through so many Bookstagram pages for inspiration, tried to improve my photography skills and I also gathered up enough courage to ask my sister if I could borrow her camera. Like I said earlier, Bookstagram is like a personal hub for me. It was hard enough telling my sisters about it, but they were so supportive. They gave me feedback on my pictures and I’m so glad that they got to watch me grow. Soon I got to 200 followers. 500. 1000. 7000. And today I have over 20K awesome people following me.
Two years. It took me that long. I was frustrated, tired and stressed out, and sometimes I might feel like there’s no point to Bookstagramming, but I continued to do what I did because I couldn’t help it. I loved taking pictures and interacting with the community.
I knew so many other people who only took 3 months to grow big, and you know what? That’s great! Some people grow faster than others. So what? Grow at your own pace! Don’t be discouraged! Now that I have so many people following me, I have to admit that it does get stressful – taking pictures daily in between blogging and school, posting constantly, all for the sake of my followers, and at the end of the day the likes and the number of followers does matter, because you grow to give back to them.
It’s amazing how rewarding Bookstagram is. You get to work with publishers, online shops, go to events, all these opportunities you get are insane.
So yes, you go through a bunch of ups and downs and undeniably your stats, likes, followers and traffic does play a huge part, but you get to do all these out of passion. It’s not a business. There’s no competition. You have to like what you’re doing to be able to achieve something out of it.
And guess what? If you’re in it for the goods and not for the work, you’re not going to go anywhere. No one is going to want to follow a page that is hungry for likes and followers. We’re a family. We support each other and grow in the process. And honestly, it’s the best thing ever. The community is such a positive place and it’s by far the best choice I’ve ever made in my life (joining it, that is).
Firstly, give yourself a pat in the back if you managed to get this far (whoop!). Secondly, if you still want to learn the deepest, darkest secrets to Bookstagram, please keep reading! 😉
Pick a theme (or not?)
Every Bookstagrammer has one, but if you’re not inclined to stick with the same kinds of photos then you don’t have to! If you’re new to Bookstagram, definitely try and experiment with different pictures. Some people prefer flatlays, others like outdoor pictures. Try different things and see which suits your style best. My Instagram page, for example, has a sort of warm feel to it. I like to try and switch to different settings and I use similar props in every one of my pictures:
Honestly though, I don’t like sticking to a theme. I have to admit that it looks really good, but I find it to hard and tedious to keep up with it. I’m more of a perfectionist when it comes to the quality of each individual picture rather than how it looks overall. You might feel the same way about your feed at first, but I promise you you’ll get over it. I’ve lost count on the number of times I’ve changed the way my picture looks. It’s tiring and frustrating, but you’ll find your style. And when you do, things just come naturally and you’ll learn to love what you produce. It just takes a little bit of patience and dedication. You’ll get there, I promise!
I cannot stress enough how important natural sunlight is, and I know filters exist but if your pictures are too dark or grainy, filters won’t be able to patch them up. That’s the case for me, at least. I try my best to take advantage of the sunlight that filters through my windows late in the afternoon when it’s blazing hot. Although my pictures are fairly dark and warm, natural sunlight does make a difference in my pictures, even when it’s filtered.
No natural sunlight:
In case you guys were wondering, I mainly use VSCO as my editing app. I use the filter HB2 on all of my pictures and I like to set the temperature up high (+2 – +5 ). The same goes with the skin tone range (i like my pictures looking warm/brownish). Sometimes I tone down the exposure so it’ll look darker too. I also always make sure I sharpen my image and enhance its clarity. Sometimes I like to use scratchy effects on my pictures too (like the one at the very bottom right). I use the app Pixlr for that!
I don’t think any of the pictures under ‘no natural sunlight’ actually look bad, I just feel like if I haven’t been forcing myself to take pictures despite the horrible lighting, it could have turned out better. It’s just so much easier to play around with the temperature and exposures when the unedited picture already looks fine, that way you won’t stress about it being too saturated/filtered, which leads me to my next tip –
Don’t force yourself!
It’s frustrating having to go through a photo session, cleaning up after the mess you’ve made, only to find out that you’re not satisfied with the pictures you took. It’s great that you’re trying out new things and that you want to show your followers your enthusiasm with the amount of posts you upload each day, but you would want to produce the best content you possibly can. If you lack inspiration and you get stuck while doing a photo session, stop what you’re doing and just relax. Quality is always better than quantity. Take a mini break if you have to! I know every Bookstagrammer goes through this phase. It’s normal. It’s okay. It saves you time from having to clean up and allows you to focus on other things. Go through some of your favorite Bookstagrammers, watch some Netflix, go outside, anything that’ll release your stress and get you back in the groove of taking pictures. Here are some examples of the type of pictures I take when I force myself too much or when I lack inspiration :
Not the best photos out there, and I can surely do better! Your creativity will come back to you, and when it does, you get this urge to produce better contents. I’d like to call this the Bookstagram comeback. When Bookstagrammers go on hiatus, they gain motivation and innovate new ideas to improve their work. It’s refreshing to see the creativity that sparks within each Bookstagrammer. Your pictures represent who you are, and you should always want to show people the best version of yourself!
Props are vital when it comes to bookish pictures! They vary when it comes to pictures with themes, but some general props I see in pictures all the time include: candles, throw pillows, blankets, coffee/tea, fairylights and flowers.
Some of my favorite ways of implementing a little bit of creativity in pictures would be color coordinating!! ❤ I don’t do them as often as I like but I love the look of it 😮
And lastly, some of the props I often use in my pictures include stationery, journal, laptop, glasses and blankets. Basically anything that reflects both my theme and what my page represents (books/blogging)! 🙂
Interaction is so important! The community is such a fun place to be in if you can look forward to reading comments and take the time to engage with other Bookstagrammers. To be able to do this you have to be approachable! See a picture you like? Go ahead and give the owner a compliment! It’s the best surprise to come home to when you’re having a horrible day. A genuine compliment can seriously brighten up anyone’s day. I know it does the trick for me ❤ If you keep up with your enthusiasm, not only would people start talking to you more, the community would be a much better place to be in. Like I said earlier, Bookstagram is a family and we support one another. It’s your choice to make it your stay worthwhile. The things you say/post are public, so do take care of your actions!
Don’t. Give. Up
I know it’s cliche to say this but honestly, you guys, this is the most crucial thing to remember when you want to achieve a goal. First times are always terrible. They’re hard and gruelling and sometimes you just want to give up. I get it. But you have no idea how much time and effort a goal can take. ‘Perfection’ does not come easy. Heck, I’m far from perfection, but two years (and still counting) later, here I am, still trying, still aiming. It’s definitely much easier for me now, but it wasn’t always that way. Keep pushing yourself. I know you hear these motivational worlds all the time and you just want to cringe but at the end of the day, patience and hard work will get you by, I guarantee that. For those of you out there whose dream is to go into publishing/writing, this is where you start. Dreams are farfetched, and they will remain that way if you don’t do anything about it. It honestly saddens me to think of what my life would be like without Bookstagram. I’m so glad I decided to pull myself up after falling and continue to push through whatever it was that continued to pull me back down. For those of you who are in this phase, snap out of it. You’re so, so close. Don’t walk away from it yet. You have no idea what’s waiting for you on the other side.
I sincerely hope this post helped you out a little! I’d love some feedbacks from you guys just in case I make another post in the future. Happy reading! If you have anymore questions, please do not hesitate to approach me! I’ll try my best to help you out 🙂
Have a great day!